Perch and pickerel paradise awaits anglers at Wytopitlock Lake

17 years ago

Having fished throughout Aroostook County for over four decades I’ve visited a lot of waterways, tried a variety of styles of angling and caught a lot of species of fish. Few things please me more than visiting a new lake or trying a new style of angling, and when I can experience both on the same outing I’m a happy camper. Just last week I made my premier trip to Wytopitlock Lake near Haynesville and trolled for big white perch and chain pickerel.
Over the years I’ve caught plenty of white perch while ice fishing and some fair sized pickerel while casting plugs and plastic worms for bass. Never before however have I trolled deep-diving crank baits for the two types of warm-water fish, nor have I caught such large specimens of each species. Several of the pickerel were in the three-pound class and some of the perch were on honest 12 inches in length.
Wytopitlock Lake is a moderate-size waterway of 1,152 acres, yet only boasts a maximum depth of 24 feet. A few camps can be seen along the shoreline, but seldom will there be more than three boats fishing at the same time, and it’s likely each one will be after a different species and will be using a different style of fishing. Some sports work the shallow coves for smallmouth bass, while anchoring in one spot and straight-down plug fishing for white perch is the most popular method and quarry. Trolling is the third option, and offers the chance to hook into any and all types of fish available.
Actually located in Glenwood, ‘Pitlock, as the locals call it is only 10 minutes off the Old Bangor Road among the Haynesville Woods that Dick Curless made famous in his winter trucking ballade of the early 80s. There’s a wide gravel boat launch and a good size dock, but at this time of year the water level is low and launching any boat larger than 14 feet will be a chore. I used my 21-foot square stern Scott canoe, backed the trailer out so all four wheels of my truck were in the lake and my muffler was just out of the water and we still couldn’t float it, and ending up pushing it off the trailer banks.
Once afloat, anglers must navigate a fairly shallow cove, with a few dangerous rocks and logs, for about 200 yards to reach the main lake. Besides an easy to launch, shallow draft boat or canoe, anglers would be wise to bring along a fishfinder. Mine not only helped us pinpoint concentrations of fish, but gave me the depths of each fish marked and a constant reading of bottom depth. Once fish are located, the next trick is to get some sort of bait down to their level.
Since most of my trolling take place on lakes just after ice out or on local rivers when water levels permit, my selection of plugs, lures and flies dive and sink to depths between two and six feet. That’s where the fish are in the spring, but with Wytopitlock’s surface water temperature in the high 70s and low 80s, most of the perch and pickerel were hovering in cooler water from 10 to 17 feet below the hot, sunny surface.
I had to visit three different stores to find deep-diving plugs and then there were only two options and they both would only reach depths between 8 and 11 feet when trolled. By the way, I always take my hand held GPS unit on trolling trips and it displays my boat speed, which I try to maintain between 1.6 and 2 miles per hour.
I used a nine-foot spinning rod, often referred to as a noodle rod due to its slow, limber action. It’s perfect for two- to eight-pound test monofilament and lightweight lures and plugs, and my open-face spinning reel was spooled with six-pound test monofilament. My fishing partner and I trolled three rods, one from each side and another straight line behind the canoe. I used one plug that dived to 11 feet, and on the opposite side a larger plug that only went down to seven feet. On the flat-line rod dragging in the wake we tied on a 10-inch long spinner rig with three bronze leafs the size of fifty-cent pieces and a snelled hook with a 3- inch piece of nightcrawler.
Throughout our three hours of trolling we hooked fish on every bait and we caught perch, pickerel and bass, proving that the fish were feeding at all levels or at least within sight of the lures and willing to move up or down to strike.
The smallmouth bass ran 12-16 inches, fought hard and jumped frequently, and we managed to land and release four. Pickerel were more plentiful, and of the six we hooked all were landed and three of the brutes were over 20 inches and thick through the body.
In some waters, pickerel have muted colors and faint markings, but these water-wolves were very bright and green sided with cream to yellowish flanks and the chain designs along their sides were very distinct. Each and every one fought well and leaped several times, and thanks to an 18-inch shock leader of 12-pound fluorocarbon none of the toothy critters were able to cut us off.
The white perch were the greatest fun of all, and of the eight we landed, four were in the 10- to 12- inch class and really put up a tussle. We lost over half a dozen perch while playing them and my partner lost the largest white perch of the day trying to horse it over the gunnel of the boat using just the rod to lift it, and the hook ripped free.
It was 88 degrees by noon and the sun blazed down on the lake all morning leaving the surface water temperature at 78 degrees. There’s no question that a bit of cloud cover, a breeze to put a chop on the water surface or at least a lower temperature would have produced better action. On many four-hour outing it’s nothing to catch a dozen perch and almost as many pickerel when the weather cooperates.
When other types of fishing slow down during the dog days of August, or if you just want a change of pace from regular species and styles of fishing, a trip to Wytopitlock Lake is a sure cure.
The lake may be small but the fish are big, and all three species are ready and willing to do battle. Best of all, for novice anglers and youngsters the amount of skill needed is minimal since trolling is the easiest and best option to assure steady action.
To make the trip a real hit, take along a frying pan and all the fixin’s and filet a couple of those big perch out and cook them right along the lake for tasty shore lunch. It’s an August outing you’ll not soon forget and one most anglers will want to repeat again soon.